O’Connell leading efforts to achieve next two steps

    The League of Minnesota Cities recognized 26 member cities, including Crookston, and one tribal community at an awards ceremony held recently for completing one of three participation steps in the GreenStep Cities initiative.

    GreenStep Cities is a free and voluntary program designed to help Minnesota cities achieve their environmental sustainability goals through implementation of 28 best practices. There are now a total of 83 cities in Minnesota that have completed one or more participation steps since the program began in 2010.

    Each of the GreenStep Cities program’s 28 best practice can be implemented by completing one or more specific actions from a list of four to eight actions in the areas of transportation, buildings and lighting, environmental management, land use, and economic and community development. The actions are tailored to all types of Minnesota cities, and they focus on cost savings, energy use reduction, and encouraging innovation.  

    Cities achieve Step One recognition by passing a resolution to become a GreenStep City, which the Crookston City Council did earlier this year. Step Two-designated cities have implemented up to eight of the program’s best practices, and Step Three-designated cities have implemented up to 16 of the best practices. Some cities have completed more than one of the three steps within a single year.

    DeAndra O'Connell, a U of M Crookston graduate who now works in Office of Sustainability on the Crookston campus, oversees Crookston's GreenStep City initiatives, several of which are complete or underway.

    The cities, along with one tribal reservation, recognized for Step One completion in 2014-2015 are Brooklyn Center, Chisholm, Crookston, Crystal, Fridley, Gilbert, Hermantown, Hutchinson, Lauderdale, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Marine on St. Croix, New Hope, Pierz, Roseville, St. Paul, Sherburn, and Two Harbors. Cities completing Step Two include Brainerd, Brooklyn Center, Columbia Heights, Coon Rapids, Crystal, Duluth, Hermantown, Hutchinson, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Maple Grove, New Hope, Northfield, Roseville, St. Paul, and Two Harbors. A total of five cities completed Step Three in 2014-2015, including Apple Valley, Bemidji, Northfield, Oakdale, and Victoria.

    A list of completed actions for all 83 cities participating in the program can be found at http://greenstep.pca.state.mn.us/allCities.cfm.

    In addition to the League, GreenStep Cities partnering organizations include the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Division of Energy Resources at the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTS), the Great Plains Institute, the Izaak Walton League–Minnesota Division, the Urban Land Institute of Minnesota, and the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota. This year’s GreenStep Cities recognition program was sponsored by Ameresco, CenterPoint Energy, Johnson Controls, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Novel Energy, Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH) Inc., and Stantec.

    The League of Minnesota Cities is a membership organization dedicated to helping cities throughout Minnesota build quality communities through effective advocacy, expert analysis, trusted guidance, and collective action. The League serves its more than 830 members through advocacy, education and training, policy development, risk management, and other services. For more information, visit www.lmc.org.